Longwall

Longwall automation

Progress in mining over the centuries has been primarily driven by advances in the design of tools and machines. The next generation of mining will be driven by advances in data and technology.


That’s where Komatsu’s Smart Mining comes in.


It’s a combination of advanced machine sensors and control systems, automation technology and powerful data analysis. It can help you mine more safely by removing workers from the operation. Mine more productively for increased profitability. And mine more sustainably.

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Komatsu longwall automation collage

Remote operations a “significant step change”

With the operating height narrowing substantially on the southern end of the mine, Centennial needed a remote solution to keep operators from harm and production going strong. Komatsu provided cutting-edge and customized software so that operators could become proficient at remote operations and meet the imminent challenges of the “pointy end.”
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Meeting you where you are

Smart Mining for Longwall mining isn’t an “all or nothing” proposition. We work with you to leverage the technologies to help you realize your business goals, no matter where you are on the data and automation journey
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RS20n trailer

The Joy Faceboss RS20n longwall control system makes that possible by helping you unlock the benefits of automation and intelligent controls. It enables the connection of intelligent devices, sensors and technologies to the mine’s network to support high levels of longwall automation. Designed for use on PRS and AFCs, the Joy Faceboss RS20n is the industry’s first 1Gb/s two-wire Ethernet system, engineered for standout productivity and reliability. It enables high-speed video and data transfer, a full suite of advanced automation controls and exceptional remote management capabilities — all without the need for additional cabling or infrastructure.

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Control systems

In a longwall operation, control systems act as the brain and nervous system, processing and carrying data. The faster, more reliable and intuitive these systems are, the closer your operation will be to realizing its full potential.


Faceboss is the control system at the heart of Joy advanced longwall performance and automation, forming a strong network empowering all longwall systems to work together seamlessly. It has been trusted by mines for years and continues to evolve with advanced features and faster speeds.

Miner looking at Faceboss screen on Joy shearer

Advanced automation

Automation holds the promise of safety advancements by removing workers from the face, and productivity and sustainability improvements through precision and repeatability. Joy longwall equipment is available with state-of-the-art automation features and software.


These smart mining tools enable you to remotely manage your longwall from a secure location, underground or on the surface. A comprehensive suite of automation technologies and solutions is available across our entire longwall product line — shearers, AFC and Joy-designed powered roof supports (PRS).

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Smart Solutions data services

Advanced longwall mining equipment is gathering incredible amounts of data every day. When combined with manufacturer and industry data and advanced analysis, powerful insights are revealed. That’s our Smart Solutions service.


In a trusted partnership with Komatsu, you share your data with us; we analyze it against global benchmarks to deliver actionable insights to help you manage your operation and equipment.


Smart Solutions is a tiered offering, so you can match the service to where you are at on your longwall data and automation journey.

Technology that works as hard as you do

If you’re intent on increasing your productivity and reducing operator exposure to dust and noise, our latest shearer steering technology gives you access to fully automated cutting sequences, including gate end turnarounds. You program an initial cutting profile and extraction height with a graphical offline planner, and the shearer automatically replicates the profile until conditions change. Your operator has the ability to override control of the roof drum to follow the preferred horizon, and this new profile can be used in the remainder of the cutting sequence automatically. This advanced level of automation enables you to pursue the most efficient cycle times with added consistency.

Komatsu employees reviewing equipment data
Highly efficient cycle times, consistency and reduced operator exposure to dust and noise. Fully programmed automated cutting sequences, including gate end turnarounds. Includes optimal drum positioning with automation software that positions the drum at a height that maintains a pre-configured pitch angle to the pans.
Longwall sensors

The improved consistency and elimination of virtually all alignment shears can increase production up to 10%.* Inertia navigation system in shearer measures the straightness of the longwall and the Faceboss system uses that data to make path corrections.

*Based on internal testing vs. longwall without feature

Automation in underground mining
Automation is becoming a larger part of the longwall mining process; operators are moving farther from the face and its associated safety concerns. Newer technologies, including powered roof supports (PRS) automation, advanced shearer automation (ASA) and personal proximity detection systems are designed to make mines more efficient while enhancing worker safety.
Miner looking at Faceboss screen on Joy shearer
Faceboss is the operating system, the brain, for your longwall mining equipment. It’s a proven system trusted by hundreds of mines across the globe. Each implementation is tailored for the product — shearer, AFC or PRS — and includes operator assistance tools and automation sequences. But its real power is when these systems are connected and FaceBoss can coordinate to deliver the consistent and efficient cycle times that deliver the productivity you need.
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Put more control in your operators’ hands with the RS20s for AFC. This system standardizes the control system across all Komatsu longwall products. This control system is designed to easily integrate with the Faceboss RS20n network (once this network is available).

Similar to the RS20s control system but with additional capability and speed to enable real time remote decision making. With data communications speeds up to 1 Gbit/s, it enables connections to high-bandwidth systems such as cameras and LIDAR.

Global Dual Solenoid

Unlock the power of automation for the journey to zero harm and increased productivity with the global dual solenoid valve for powered roof supports. Its serial connectivity enables a distributed system for fast response. Can be used with any PRS system; common control with shearer and AFC advances Komatsu remote operation capabilities.

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Joy Compak Next Gen with Extension

To help realize the potential of your longwall mining operations, the Joy Compak Next Gen helps facilitate your shearer cutting rate and delivers exceptional cycle time performance.

Quick Benefits:

  • High performance valve technology helps improve cycle times by up to 12%*
  • Overall size is reduced by up to 27%** and weight by up to 30%** for improved ergonomics and simplified maintenance
  • Custom-designed spool technology for reliability and longevity
  • Expandable through modular design incorporating standardized components

*Comparison based on previous model

**Comparison based on previous model (like-for-like designs) without extra add-ons

 

Joy OptiDrive
The Optidrive variable frequency drive system is the result of a holistic approach to transmission design that provides you with an adaptable, rugged and reliable solution for shearer traction systems. The medium voltage (MV, 3300 or 4160 V) OptiDrive system integrates the variable speed drive with the motor to achieve outstanding speed and torque control for soft starts and stops and fast acceleration. The variable chain speeds allow your operators to adapt to production conditions, giving you an opportunity to increase capacity, improve cutting cycles, and achieve remarkable efficiency with your longwall system.

This system advances the journey to zero harm by preventing movement of an advancing shield if the system detects a worker in harm’s way. Full integration into the Faceboss Control System eliminates the need for additional components.